x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

It is time for all-male golf clubs to get with the times

Having to vote that women be allowed the same rights as men is as insulting as it is archaic. Open its doors to women, or deal with the public outrage that will rightfully follow, writes John McAuley.

This is a  Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007 file photo of tournament winner and world number one Mexico's Lorena Ochoa as she tees off from the 18th with the St Andrews clubhouse in the background, during the Women's British Open golf tournament on the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews, Scotland.  The Royal & Ancient could finally be allowing women to join one of the most influential golf clubs.  Matt Dunham / AP Photo
This is a Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007 file photo of tournament winner and world number one Mexico's Lorena Ochoa as she tees off from the 18th with the St Andrews clubhouse in the background, during the Women's British Open golf tournament on the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews, Scotland. The Royal & Ancient could finally be allowing women to join one of the most influential golf clubs. Matt Dunham / AP Photo

As the news dropped, the automatic reaction was to glance straight at the day’s date. Confirmation was required: it was indeed 2014, not 1914.

While the move is welcome, and although far from certain to be passed through – it will be discussed at a spring meeting and voted on in September - it is also long overdue. The Royal and Ancient has for an age been criticised for its male-only policy, yet has thus far failed to bow to political and social pressure.

The R&A has for an age been criticised for its ‘male-only’ policy but failed to bow to political and social pressure.

At last year’s British Open, at Muirfield, the debate raged again, and deservedly so.

Muirfield is one of three all-male clubs used on the Open’s nine-course rotation, and its exclusion of women appeared to be a perfectly plausible reason for why it should be excluded from hosting golf’s oldest major.

As the R&A chief executive, Peter Dawson, acknowledged then, the issue was “divisive”.

It should not be. As obvious as it is, it should be binding; everyone in agreement.

Having to vote that women be allowed the same rights as men is as insulting as it is archaic. Open its doors to women, or deal with the public outrage that will rightfully follow.

It is that simple.

jmacauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE